Wyoming Legislative Coverage

Wyoming Public Radio will bring you coverage of the 2020 legislative session. Read and listen to our coverage from the session. You can also follow our coverage on Twitter using the hashtag #wyleg.

The 2020 Budget Session begins February 10th.

Keep updated with this session:

Public Domain

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services rejected a proposal that would have lowered air ambulance cost for Wyomingites.

NPS Photo / Ken Conger

A new bill has been introduced to the Wyoming Legislature that would create a compensation program for livestock-wolf conflicts outside of the trophy area.

Campbell County

Three judges in Wyoming's Sixth Judicial District are handling the court's weighted caseload that should be handled by four judges. That's why Gillette Sen. Michael Von Flatern said it's time to hire a new judge for the district, which covers Campbell, Weston and Crook Counties.

State of Wyoming

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon presented his budget to the legislature's Joint Appropriations Committee this week and it didn't feature massive budget cuts some were predicting due to a downturn in revenue. The governor joins Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck to discuss his strategy along with some other topics.

The Select Committee on Coal/Mineral Bankruptcies At Its Cheyenne Interim Meeting
Cooper McKim

Hours into a meeting of the Select Committee on Coal/Mineral Bankruptcies, Chairman Eric Barlow brought up a draft bill called "Protested Tax Payments." With little pause, Barlow welcomed in the day's regular testifiers.

State of Wyoming

Gov. Mark Gordon said although Wyoming's revenue picture is changing, the state should take the next two years to determine priorities and decide where future revenue may come from.

 Comparison of Natural Gas Production and Price Forecasts.
Consensus Revenue Estimating Group

Natural gas producers in Wyoming are facing a dramatic new normal as prices drop and supply explodes. The state Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) report estimates natural gas production is falling at similar levels to coal projected to be down nearly 40 percent this year from 2009.

Corporations Committee hears from its first public commenter
Cooper McKim

A crowd lined a room in the Wyoming Liquor Division as the Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee heard testimony on two bills that would affect the solar industry. After nearly four hours of impassioned speaking, both bills died on split seven to seven votes.

Naughton Power Plant; Rocky Mountain Power's coal-fired power plant looking at early unit closures
Pacificorp

Wyoming's Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee tabled a bill that would have changed how the Public Service Commission (PSC) oversees coal-fired power plants that are closing early. The bill considered requiring the PSC to consider socioeconomic factors, reliability impacts and any other information deemed necessary when looking at early retirement.

State of Wyoming

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon unveiled a mostly flat budget, rejecting a number of budget increases. But he did not cut the existing budget, using reserve funds to balance the budget over the next two years. The governor did predict that budget cuts could be forthcoming as the state's revenue picture looks dicey.

Public Domain

Jackson State Representative Mike Yin is proposing a bill that could help address the affordable housing shortage in his district. It would allow counties to charge a fee for homes left empty more than six months out of the year.

ideastations.org

The Wyoming Legislature will take another crack at Medicaid expansion. The legislature's Joint Revenue Committee approved a proposed bill that will ask Gov. Mark Gordon to explore options for Wyoming's participation in expansion and determine whether it's financially viable for the state. Eventually lawmakers would need to approve a Wyoming plan.

Forecasted revenue from different versions of the bill
Legislative Service Office

Wyoming's Joint Revenue Committee let a bill die without a vote that would have levied a tax on electricity generation whether it's coming from coal, hydroelectric, or wind. Members of the committee considered the Electrical Generation Tax as a way to generate additional funds for the state which is looking at a major budget deficit. This bill could have raised funds ranging from $3 million to $190 million per year.

Preferred Portfolio Coal Retirements based on its chosen IRP
Rocky Mountain Power

Wyoming's Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee used its last hearing before the budget session to discuss concerns over Rocky Mountain Power's recently announced Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The public utility's long-awaited plan detailed its shift away from coal, including the early retirement of two Wyoming coal plants.

Wyoming Legislature

Not only will Wyoming generate less money over the next three years, the state is also looking for at least $150 million to cover its next two-year budget, according to a new revenue report. But that number may actually be closer to $400 million.

Agenda of topics to be discussed in the coming committee
Legislative Service Office

Wyoming's Management Council has started a new, one-year legislative committee in response to the recent spate of bankruptcies in the coal industry. The hope is to produce legislation that puts Wyoming in an improved position in future reorganizations.

Bob Beck

After over four years and $300 million, people in Wyoming got to see what the restoration of the Wyoming Capitol looks like. The building had been falling apart and several lawmakers argued that something had to be done. But spending money on the project and the adjoining office building was questioned by many across the state since it came at a time when Wyoming was strapped for money.

Public Domain

Next week the Wyoming legislature will begin to address a growing and expensive problem in Wyoming known as long term care. Medicaid costs in Wyoming are a growing concern and a lot of that is because it's used to pay for nursing home care.

Sam Shumway is the Director of AARP Wyoming says the lack of available long term care is another problem. He tells Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck that they want to present some solutions to lawmakers.

Public Domain

Public defenders provide legal representation to people who can't afford private attorneys. They're appointed by a judge to represent those accused of a range of crimes from misdemeanors and juvenile offenses to serious felonies, and because of that they can see a lot of clients.

Screen shot from Wyoming PBS live stream

Wyoming is the only state not using Medicaid to cover special education services in schools, and that could be costing the state money.

Federal Bureau of Investigation / Wikimedia Commons

The Wyoming Legislature's Joint Judiciary Committee is considering addressing issues with the state's inability to share mental health information with federal government as part of compliance in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

Catherine Wheeler

The Wyoming Legislature's Joint Judiciary Committee wants to gather more information on childhood sexual abuse crimes in the state.

Catherine Wheeler

The Wyoming Legislature's Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee met in Gillette this week to discuss potential closures of coal power plants in the state. Rocky Mountain Power's parent company is considering early retirements of its coal plants finding many of them are uneconomic.

Bob Beck

For the last four years, the Wyoming legislature has been meeting at a remodeled Kmart as the state capitol complex has undergone extensive renovations. While new state office space is being constructed, the big news surrounds the restoration that has taken place inside the capitol building.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Gov. Mark Gordon said a bill that takes away a county's ability to apply zoning regulations to private schools can become law without his signature.

Wikimedia.org

A new law passed in the Wyoming government gives the University of Wyoming approval and funding for new student housing construction. This bill came about after years of discussion about developing new student housing.

Bob Beck

While the Wyoming legislature was busy fighting about private schools, the budget and a few tax issues, it also passed legislation that continues to make the state the place to be for Blockchain technology.

Flickr Creative Commons/Jason Carter

Governor Mark Gordon has signed into law a bill that approves funding for a regulatory program to grow and sell hemp.

Tennessee Watson

A bill to address the financial challenges faced by poor Wyomingites who are elderly or totally disabled did not make it out of this year's legislative session.

CC0 Public Domain

Back in September, a federal judge ruled the Greater Yellowstone grizzlies should be put back under Endangered Species Act protections, which means the federal government has the last say in the bear's management. But during Wyoming's legislative session, Governor Mark Gordon signed a bill that authorizes the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to manage grizzly bears. If the commission does decide to manage the bears, would it be legal?

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